Termination of Operations: Mira
Posted on Sat Nov 9th, 2013 @ 1:40am by Provisional Lieutenant Commander Narayn Ballard
Rules of Acquisition
Location: Main Bridge, USS Knox [Vicinity of the Mira System, Galactic South]
Timeline: Late 2389
"Federation Science Vessel." The Knox's comm system boomed with the voice of the Ritorian on the bridge of the Carivaar-class which had pursued them into the nebula. "Shut down your engines and submit to active scans."
The bridge of the Nova-class USS Knox was buzzing with an energy previously unseen. The teal-collared officers zoomed from station to station, attempting to encrypt the details of their work before the Ritorians' attempted to download the database.
"I think we're in for the high jump here!" Ensign Crelling called from the helm. He was the only one who hadn't been in a situation like this before.
"We'll be fine, Ensign." Commander Kellin shouted back, desperately trying to switch the ship's mode. "Did I not say that we should have one button for this?!"
Lieutenant Commander (Provisional) Ballard had been locking down the master systems display and turned on the Commanding Officer. "You dragged us into their alert range, Arwen. We're going to need to sit on the last packet to make sure that they don't detect us transmitting it."
The Ritorian Commander repeated his demand for the Knox to drop her shields. They must have known that something was amiss- the Knox's shields held biological masks that made it seem as though it had the standard crew complement.
In fact, the crew of the Knox were packed in like sardines in a can to ensure that Starfleet Intelligence's 'Pirate Buster' was fully manned at all times. Ostensibly assigned as a survey vessel for the various nebulae in the vicinity of the Ferengi's Mira Station, they were actually tasked with observing the comings and goings of Galactic South's pirate hotspot.
Now they'd been caught.
"Lock that console down, dammit!" Kellin shouted above the din of the Ritorian's repeated message to shut down the Knox's engines. "Are we set?"
"All file encryptions and flag files are buried, Sir." Lieutenant Vaarte called out from Operations. While there was no real "Operations" station, the encryption had now completed, allowing the Knox to appear as a standard Science Vessel.
"Cut the engines and return the signal." Commander Kellin ordered, taking her seat in the centre chair of the bridge. "This is the Federation Science Vessel, USS Knox. You do not have permission to stray from the Miran Pass. Please explain your hostile action."
Kellin had always been too hot-headed for this kind of mission and Ballard knew it. The Miran Pass, a gateway from Ritorian space to the Mira System had been negotiated with between the Federation, Ritorian and Ferengi governments but suddenly seemed like a pretty terrible idea.
The Ritorian appeared on the viewscreen of the Knox. The gill-like apertures on his green face were flared and gave an uncomfortable look into his other orifices. "Do not presume to tell me what clearances I have. We detected your scan of our vessel upon our departure from Mira Station. You will submit to a full scan of your vessel. Now."
"Commander, communicate this aggression to Starfleet Command and request assistance." Kellin ordered Ballard, leaving him in little doubt as to his Commanding Officer's gambit.
He communicated the situation to Starfleet Intelligence in a coded message and returned his gaze to the infuriated Ritorian.
"If you do not submit to our demands then we will be forced to open fire upon you. Your scan is in violation of the treaty which we signed with your government!"
"Response from Starfleet Command, Sir." Ballard reported.
"Mute audio." Kellin ordered the computer as she crossed the bridge to Ballard's side.
Ballard looked up at the stoic Commander and paraphrased the message. "We're to submit to the scan and then return to Cestus Three for debriefing."
He could see the vein in Kellin's forehead throbbing. She was spoiling for a fight with the Ritorian Corvette. "Arwen. Are you hearing me?"
She stormed back to the centre of the bridge. "Unmute audio." The Commander fixed the now apoplectic Ritorian with an icy stare. "Conduct your scan."
The tension as the Ritorians conducted could have been cut with a spoon. Kellin paced a worn ring into the floor covering of the bridge as Ballard sat quietly observing the interactions of the Ritorians who had- for some reason- left the communications channel open while they conducted the scan.
Eventually a science officer at the rear of the Ritorian bridge spoke. "Their database displays nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, their database stretches back with no encryption."
"We've been mapping nebulae. Why would we encrypt scans of nebulae?" Kellin's irritation was obvious. Not as obvious as the Ritorian captain's.
"Liar!" He bellowed. "You scanned our ship!"
"I don't know what to tell you, Captain." Kellin was suddenly an oasis of calm. "We don't even have a record of scanning your ship. How could we have?"
It was vitally important that they got out without the Ritorians detecting anything unusual. If they had anything greater than a suspicion of wrong-doing, there would undoubtedly be a diplomatic incident on the cards.
"Be on your way but be assured that I will report this to the Ritorian Government." The Ritorian's look of fury would have alarmed even the toughest Klingon.
"Please do." Kellin smiled sweetly. "We'll also be reporting that a Ritorian Corvette violated the terms of the Miran Pass to illegally scan a Federation science vessel."
The Ritorian's growl likely continued long after the communication channel was terminated but the Knox was on the first jump back to Cestus III. Starfleet Intelligence wouldn't risk another run-in with the Ritorians.
Lieutenant Commander (Provisional) Narayn Ballard